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The 12th Austrian Frederick Kiesler Prize for Architecture and the Arts goes to Theaster Gates
Portrait of Theaster Gates. Image by Sara Pooley. Courtesy Theaster Gates.



VIENNA.- The Austrian Frederick and Lillian Kiesler Private Foundation announced that the USAmerican artist Theaster Gates has been awarded the Frederick Kiesler Prize for Architecture and the Arts, one of the most highly endowed international prizes in this area. Born in Chicago in 1973, Theaster Gates is one of the most original artists of our time. Among many other disciplines, Theaster Gates is a trained sculptor, ceramicist, and social innovator. His work addresses aspects of the spatial design, restoration, and reactivation of vacant space with a focus on community enrichment through ambitious cultural initiatives and the preservation of Black culture in America. He employs a range of artistic methods, in particular sculpture and painting, as well as spatial interventions, film, and music. His cultural projects, which focus on the long term, are united by an aspiration to create world-class programs and amenities in Black neighborhoods. Theaster Gates became well-known as a result of the Rebuild Foundation in Chicago, Gates’ non-profit organization on the city’s South Side that transforms abandoned land and buildings into cultural amenities and artistic space for the community. Since then, his work has been exhibited in important international museums and exhibitions including, but not limited to, documenta 13 in Kassel and Haus der Kunst, Munich (D), National Gallery of Art, Washington DC and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (USA), the Palais de Tokyo, Paris (F), the Kunstmuseum Basel (CH), the Fondazione Prada, Milan (IT) and the Kunsthaus Bregenz (AT).

First Statement of Theaster Gates:

“Spatial platforms that highlight the contributions of Black artists and designers have been long overlooked. Projects that consider people as much as they consider the implications of the built form deserve merit. I’m so grateful to be part of this precedent and honored that the selection committee would acknowledge my practice as part of the amazing work by luminaries who have received this award in the past. I’m thankful to all who have supported my practice both within museums and on the street.”




“I am delighted that we are honoring Theaster Gates, a virtuoso, who operates at the interface between art, performance, activism, and urban planning. When we consider his work in conjunction with the visionary oeuvre of Frederick Kiesler we open up new horizons. His interest in the question of how artistic means can be used to create social spaces is highly relevant for civil society. The creative breadth covered by Theaster Gates – from ceramic art to music – is a fascinating reflection of the heterogeneity of urban life. And as he develops his processes, which can last several years, he never loses sight of the objective of improving the lives of all the inhabitants of a city,” emphasizes Vienna’s Executive City Councilor for Cultural Affairs and Science, Veronica Kaup-Hasler.

“Theaster Gates moves masterfully at the interface between architecture, urban planning, and art, which is why he is predestined to receive the Frederick Kiesler Prize,” says Andrea Mayer, Secretary of State for Art and Culture. “His entire oeuvre, and the Rebuild Foundation in particular, perfectly exemplifies how art and architecture can also have a social impact. Theaster Gates is a worthy winner of the Frederick Kiesler Prize and – on top of this – a role model for all those who are active in this area.”

The Austrian Frederick and Lillian Kiesler Private Foundation is particularly delighted about the choice: “In his work, Theaster Gates has a unique ability to combine social commitment with architectural-artistic solutions. He has created places that are not only new centers for the community, but also impress with their poetic and spatial aesthetic quality. Gates' innovative spatial practice, combined with a social agenda, elevate both the Kiesler Prize and architecture as an artistic discipline to a higher level. He is a concept artist, who addresses the urgent problems of our times and of his immediate environment. His process-oriented and transdisciplinary approach and his aspiration to improve the reality of people's lives connect him with Friedrich Kiesler and his idea of "correlated arts." (Elke Delugan-Meissl, President of the Foundation)

Born in Chicago in 1973, Theaster Gates is one of the most original artists of our time. Among many other disciplines, Theaster Gates is a trained sculptor, ceramicist, and social innovator. His work addresses aspects of the spatial design, restoration, and reactivation of vacant space with a focus on community enrichment through ambitious cultural initiatives and the preservation of Black culture in America. He employs a range of artistic methods, in particular sculpture and painting, as well as spatial interventions, film, and music. His cultural projects, which focus on the long term, are united by an aspiration to create world-class programs and amenities in Black neighborhoods. Theaster Gates became well-known as a result of the Rebuild Foundation in Chicago, Gates’ non-profit organization on the city’s South Side that transforms abandoned land and buildings into cultural amenities and artistic space for the community. Since then, his work has been exhibited in important international museums and exhibitions including, but not limited to, documenta 13 in Kassel and Haus der Kunst, Munich (D), National Gallery of Art, Washington DC and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (USA), the Palais de Tokyo, Paris (F), the Kunstmuseum Basel (CH), the Fondazione Prada, Milan (IT) and the Kunsthaus Bregenz (AT).










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